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Keith Carter Named Ole Miss Athletics Director

Keith Carter Named Ole Miss Athletics Director

OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss Chancellor Glenn Boyce announced the hiring of Keith Carter as Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Friday. Carter had been the interim athletics director since the May, 2019 departure of former AD Ross Bjork to Texas A&M.

Following are the video of the press conference introducing Carter as well as the transcript from the event.

Here are the statements from Chancellor Boyce, AD Keith Carter and Mike Glenn, Chair of the Search Committee:

Chancellor Glenn Boyce

Opening Statement

“Athletics plays such an important role in the visibility and success of our university, and we know that this was an important hire for us. Our search committee, which included alumni, faculty, and Ole Miss M-Club members, did a tremendous job of evaluating a pool of experienced and highly capable candidates. We extend our appreciation to Mike Glenn. David Dellucci, Peggie Gillom-Granderson, Jesse Mitchell, David Morris, Ron Rychlak, and Welsey Walls. I very much appreciate all of the hard work and the time, effort, and commit- ment that they put into this.

This group worked hard over the last few weeks to deliver a great result, and their driving focus was always on what was in the best interest of Ole Miss.

In particular, I want to recognize the search committee chair, Mike Glenn. Mike, I can’t thank you enough for answering the call every time your university needs you. We appreciate you so greatly.

I’d also like to share a heartfelt thanks to Ole Miss football legend Archie Manning, who served in an advisory capacity to me and the committee during this process. As always, Archie provided wise counsel and has been a steady source of guidance and support. I am incredibly appreciative of Archie and the relationship that he and I have developed through this process.

As we began this search, I charged the committee with finding the right leader who possesses the integrity and character needed to lead Ole Miss Athletics and our amazing student-athletes. A leader with a strong and proven record of success. A leader with excellent management and interpersonal skills. And a leader who will excel as the public face of the university’s athletics program.

It was also important to find someone that upholds a strong commitment to academics and an understanding of the appropriate role for athletics in the overall university setting. Ladies and gentlemen, we have some of the finest student-athletes in America. Their academic performance is absolutely amazing, program-by-program. So, it was very important for me as Chancellor that we also focus in that area because we have something special going on in our institution.”

On announcing Keith Carter as Athletics Director:

“This by far is the best part of my day ladies and gentlemen. I can assure you.

I have great optimism for where we are headed at Ole Miss. I want to welcome Keith (Carter) as the next leader. I also want to welcome Keith’s family because I know that commit- ment that you will make for your dad to be successful here at the university. And so, I appreciate each and every one of you deeply, Keith. We are never going to leave them behind no matter how much we work.

Since his days at Ole Miss as an All-American basketball star, Keith has been a valued and cherished member of the Ole Miss family. 10 years ago, Keith was drawn back to Ole Miss. Since returning, he has served successfully in a number of executive roles, including as Chief Revenue Officer for the athletics department, and most recently, he has served as Interim Athletics Director, answering the call for his university to provide strong and steady leadership during a time of transition.

He has succeeded consistently as a Rebel athlete, athletics administrator, and fundraiser. He has been on the front lines, representing our university and upholding the highest standards of what it means to be an Ole Miss Rebel. Keith has cut his teeth right here at this university.

We coached, mentored, and trained him a student-athlete, and now he stands ready to lead our athletics department forward and continue an upward rise in his career, and in bringing the trajectory of Ole Miss Athletics into a new era. There is no better or more rewarding story than the one of nurturing and fostering a leader who then returns to the institution that invested so much into that person.

I think it is safe to say that we have gotten our return on investment from Keith Carter. And I think that will continue. He shares a deep passion for this university and is an Ole Miss Rebel through and through. His standing with Rebel fans everywhere will serve Ole Miss Athletics and the university well, and I know all of Rebel Nation will rally behind him and support him in this role.

Keith (Carter) is highly qualified, well-respected among ADs, and he inherits the most passionate fans in all of college sports. One of the most commonly asked questions on our campus is ‘Are you ready’? That question represents a proud Rebel tradition. But it’s not needed today, because we know that Keith Carter is ready, prepared, and will lead us to new heights.”

On if the reaction to the search that named him Chancellor gave any pause to promoting from within for the new Athletic Director:

“That did not give me any pause and I will tell you why. They put together a committee that I thought was exceptional. People who loved Ole Miss and who were connected to the athletics world. That process ran flawlessly and as long as the process was doing so I knew we were going to come up with the right candidate. I do want everybody to know that Keith had to fight through that process. Keith won that job through this process and that recommendation unanimously to me and my interview with Keith. I thought Mike Glenn couldn’t have been a better chairman to run that process.”

On the optimism towards Ole Miss athletics:

“I have the same optimism as Keith does, and I think he pointed out a few things. He pointed out some of our championship teams. It goes even beyond that, we are incredibly competitive as an institution. When you start looking at every sport we have, there are so many positives to each and every sport. I think sometimes people don’t look beyond some of our major sports. For a second, I want to take us beyond some of the major sports and talk about all of them. It’s amazing what we’re achieving in each one of those sports, and while they don’t get the recognition sometimes, I want you to be aware that the athletes work hard in every single sport and go through the same type of pain, the same type of effort and the same type of win, the excitement, and when they don’t, the disappointment. The overall program is what I’m deeply engrained with and that’s how I look at it. Every single student-athlete that participlates and wears Ole Miss, that’s who I care about and who we want to serve to the highest levels. When you look at it from that perspective, you can see why Mike had the conversations he had with Athletic Directors about where the Ole Miss program was and why they thought it was a wonderful position.
I agree, it’s in a wonderful position. Now, do we want to compete, do we want to be better? Yes. Do we want to win more championships? Absolutely. You won’t find two more competitive people than the person standing at the mic right here or the guy I just introduced behind me. We’re looking forward to making this work and work at a very high level.”

Ole Miss Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Keith Carter

Opening Statement

I want to say thank you for being here today. You know for me, I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to stand before you and the opportunity to be able to lead Ole Miss Athletics into the future.

I want to thank Chancellor Boyce for his support and confidence and for giving me this opportunity. I can’t wait to work with him and see where we take Ole Miss as we push forward.

AD Keith Carter and his family at the announcement of Carter’s hiring as Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

I want to thank Mike Glenn and the rest of the search committee for listening to my vision for Ole Miss Athletics and believing that we can take Ole Miss Athletics to new levels.”Most importantly, I want to thank my family. My wife, Jill, who I met here at Ole Miss and she’s been beside me for 20 years now. From Albuquerque to Bismarck to Italy and back to Oxford. It’s been a fun journey that will continue on now in this new role. My children, Drew, Callie, and Hayes. They have been Rebels since birth; they really don’t know anything else. I look forward to watching them grow in Oxford and at many Ole Miss events for a long time. I can promise you this, our family will be visible and we will be all in with Ole Miss Athletics.

Thank you to all my friends and family that have been so supportive over the years to help me get to this point today, especially my mom and my dad. They told me they weren’t going to be here, but they’re here. I love you all. Also, my sister growing up back in Perryville, Arkansas. They taught me lessons that have helped mold and shape the person that I am today. There are too many others to say at this time but as we all know it takes a strong support team to help you be successful in any endeavor. I’ve been blessed with such a good group of friends and relationships over the years. I want to say a very special thank you to our athletic staff. We have a great staff in Ole Miss Athletics, we really do. It’s been a hard time, it’s been a challenging time over the interim period. I think the uncertainty and the angst was certainly there, but our staff did an incredible job of making sure that Ole Miss Athletics not only functioned, but functioned at a very high level. So, thanks to them and thanks to what they did in this time to pull together. A special thanks to Lynnette Johnson who was kind of my right hand throughout this process and I look forward to moving forward with her as well.

To the Ole Miss Family, so many relationships and friendships over the past 25 years since I arrived. I didn’t grow up in Mississippi so I didn’t know a ton about Ole Miss when I got here, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that at Ole Miss the things that are most important and the best things about Ole Miss are simply the people of Ole Miss. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of so many people over the last couple months and even this morning after the announcement was made. I promise I’ll get back to every single person when I have time. For me to continue to build strong relationships and build more is what I’m all about. I’ve been on the external side and for me to build relationships and continue those relationships is so important.

I’ve learned from some of the best Athletics Directors in the country. One is here today, Pete Boone, who was the Athletics Director when I first got here. So, thank you for being here today. Obviously, Ross Bjork, who gave me just an unbelievable opportunity to really be a part of every part of Ole Miss Athletics over the past seven or eight years. I appre- ciate his leadership during his time at Ole Miss and certainly his friendship. Danny White, the Athletics Director at Central Florida and Allen Green, the Athletics Director at Auburn were instrumental in my early career in college athletics as we roamed the halls of the old UMAA Foundation back in 2009. I’ve learned so much from them and I thank them for what they’ve done and built into me along the way.

I believe the purpose of intercollegiate athletics is to provide student-athletes with the opportunity to achieve academic success while competing at the highest level. Our role as administrators is to ensure that each student-athlete has the resources necessary to accomplish both of those objectives. Instilling core values such as integrity, respect, balance, perseverance, trust, and humility are key components of a successful athletics department and ultimately the student-athletes. The culture of the athletics department sets the tone for its success or failure, and I believe that it starts at the top with the Athletics Director. As the Athletics Director, I must inspire and motivate the athletics staff with visionary leadership that allows every member of the team to take ownership and to feel that his or her role is important to the overall mission. At Ole Miss we will continue to be aggressive and proactive to grow the Ole Miss brand and be leaders in all facets of our industry.

We will absolutely support student-athletes and coaches and put them in the best position to be successful. I know what it takes to win championships here at Ole Miss. From cutting down the nets (as a player) to watching a Sugar Bowl win as an administrator, I understand the process and will do everything in my power to help us compete at the highest level. Ole Miss is a destination school, a flagship university that can attract the best student athletes in the country, and it’s my job to provide the leadership, facilities and resources necessary to win championships. As we’ve seen over the last year, our men’s cross country team and our women’s golf team have won SEC Championships, and my expectations are for all of our programs to compete at that level.

I cut my teeth in our industry in development, fundraising right here at Ole Miss. I don’t plan on stopping. I will be knocking on your door, I’ll be making a phone call to you to discuss how you can help Ole Miss Athletics move forward. I’ll be visible and transparent with donors, with fans, with media, and anyone else who wants to learn anything about our department. We in athletics cannot do our jobs from behind our desks, so please know that we will be out front building relationships and being aggressive to spread the Ole Miss message.

I couldn’t be more excited for this incredible opportunity. I’m honored to be your Athletics Director and will work tirelessly to make sure that Ole Miss Athletics is something we can all be proud of.”

On the first order of business as the new Athletic Director:

“There are a couple of things that are front of mind. Certainly, getting us back to full staff. We’ve got a couple of positions we have to look at. We’ve already been able to do some background stuff on that, and we can get to work there pretty quickly. The other thing is fundraising. There’s money on the sidelines right now, people that have been in kind of a wait and see mode. I’m going to go back to those people, continue to build relationships, and see if we can get some of those people to sign on the dotted line.”

On impressions of the football program and the direction that it is headed:

“I think our football program is headed in a great direction. I’m so excited about Coach Luke, he’s our coach and we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity we have next week in Starkville. We’re excited about where recruiting is and excited about where the future is headed. We’re going to get behind Coach Luke, try to get after the Bulldogs next week and get to that fifth win.”

On coming from Arkansas to Ole Miss in the mid 90s and if he ever saw himself in the position he is now:

“No not really. Not in 1995. When I got here in 1995 coming from Arkansas I really didn’t know anything about Ole Miss. One night we were hanging out and I got in a conversa- tion with this guy. We talked for about 10 or 15 minutes before going back over to my friends and they said how was that conversation? I said, “it was great, super awesome guy, super nice, welcomed me to the basketball team.” They said, “that was Cooper Manning”. And I said, “who is Cooper Manning?” They said, “that’s Archie Manning’s son.” And I said, “who is Archie Manning?” That’s the truth, I didn’t know anything about Ole Miss when I got here. What I learned very quickly is that the people of Oxford and the people
of Ole Miss are what makes it really special. Now, to have an opportunity come full circle and having been a student-athlete, really not understanding how athletics worked as a student-athlete. I knew we got on a plane, I knew we got a meal after the game. Now knowing how all that works and being a part of that, helping our almost 400 student-athletes is a great honor. It is not something I take lightly and I am looking forward to it.”

On possible athletic facilities upgrades:

“It’s important that we finish out our Forward Together Campaign. That’s a campaign we started back in 2012. It’s something we have to finish up, we’ve got about 17 million left there and I think we can do that in a reasonable amount of time. We’re working now on a new track locker room, with a little over two million dollars there to help those hundred student-athletes. We’ve talked about our softball facility needing some help, that’s going to be a priority in the coming days. We don’t have anything major, nothing above a 20 to 30 million type project, but certainly we’ll get in and assess. At some point, we will mobilize and do another capital campaign as we move forward.”

On learning during the interim role to feel more ready for the permanent position:

“Having the opportunity to be interim was so valuable. I’ve said my whole career I’ve wanted to be an Athletic Director. You hear from sitting Athletic Directors but until you’re in the chair, you really don’t know what it’s all about and I learned that on the first day, that that’s absolutely true. It really solidified for me that I wanted to do this. Not only did it solidify that I wanted to be an Athletic Director, but that I wanted to do it at Ole Miss. This place is so special and there are so many opportunities here. Certainly, being in the chair, making some of those decisions, I think it prepared me really well for this permanent role.”

On how realistic he saw it was for him to be the new Athletic Director when tagged with the interim role:

“For me, the way I was raised is you put your head down and you go to work and you do the best you possibly can. I knew with the role I had at Ole Miss that I had built relation- ships that were key. You see a lot of Athletic Directors these days that are coming up in the world of development. I thought that was a feather in my cap that could help me, but I knew we had to do good work in the interim period. Again, I credit the staff so much for working hard, pulling together, doing great work. I felt like I had an opportunity, almost like a six-month interview, I actually thought it might have been a little longer, for the interview process to put some work on paper and build the resume. It’s been fun, but to now get the opportunity to do it long-term is very special.”

On getting rid of negativity left over after the NCAA case:

“I think every day we get away from some of that, it gets better. Time is healing it in some ways. I think, for us at Ole Miss, we certainly have our own unique challenges and things we’ve been through like that case, but if you look around the country there’s a downfall in attendance everywhere. We have to be cognizant of what’s going on nationally, and put our spin and our theme on what our issues are. For us, we have to be visible, as the Athletic Director you have to be in front of one person, ten people, one hundred people and we have to win people back. For us, I’ve been around for 25 years and we’ve seen some of these highs and lows. Certainly, when we’re on the highs, we are pulling in the same direction. We don’t have the biggest donor base, the biggest fan base, so we need everyone. We’ve got to do a good job of being intentional, of being visible and transparent with everyone in talking about our vision, how we’re going to improve on things and improve on game experience. That is something we have been working on and will continue to work on.”

Ole Miss Search Committee Chair, Mike Glenn 

Opening Statement

“Thank you, Chancellor, and it’s a pleasure to be with you here today. I would like to re-iterate my thanks to the committee. I didn’t have anything to do with putting the committee together, but once I found out who was on the committee, I certainly took great pride in working with them. Peggie (Gillom-Granderson) is here today. Would you please stand to represent the rest of the committee?

We had committee members from North Carolina, Mobile, Alabama, and from Louisiana. These people are diverse and spread all over the southeast, so it wasn’t easy to get everybody together at all times. But, I will say that we had 100-percent participation at every meeting and 100-percent participation at all interviews. So, I am thankful for that.

I also want to thank Archie (Manning). Even thought he was titled a consultant, that is a bit misleading. He was in every meeting, he was in every interview. So, from my point of view, he was a committee member just like everybody else. He gave tremendous insight as you might imagine. He has enormous contacts within collegiate athletics. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Collegiate Sports Associates. Todd Turner, there is no way that we could have conducted this search in the time frame that we did, and maintained confiden- tiality of the candidates, which is so critical in these processes.

As the Chancellor said, when he first called me, he said that I want to be really clear about what I’d like for you to do. He said he wanted me to find the best person to lead the athletics department at Ole Miss. Chancellor, I really appreciate the freedom that you gave us and the autonomy that you gave us to not only conduct the process, but to design the process on the front end. Select a search firm, and then proceed with identifying a deep pool of candidates.

Once the committee was announced on the 30th, we went to work immediately. We had our first meeting. We had an in-depth discussion of three different search firms. We quickly honed in on a search firm. We talked about the process and we talked about the important of maintaining confidentiality. That was critical. Soon after that, Collegiate Sports came to campus and met with all of our head coaches, either individually or in a group. They were available that particular day, as well as administrative staff to get input into the kind of candidate that we needed and the qualities of the individual. After that, we developed a criterion for us based on the input that we received and their experience in conducting many athletics director searches.

We were able to develop a very diverse pool of candidates. We had over 30 candidates, most of which were sitting Power 5 and Group of 5 Athletics Directors. CSA and I did a number of screening interviews to determine candidates’ fit and interest in the job. The committee then got back together again and was able to narrow that list down to the individuals that we wanted to spend time with face-to-face.

100-percent participation in all interviews, the one exception was Wesley Walls did miss the first interview. We gave him a little bit of latitude there, his daughter got married the night before. So, we thought that was a reasonable exception.”

But, it was interesting. When we were in the interview room, I started looking around the room. And I see Peggie (Gillom-Granderson) and all of her accomplishments in sports. I see David Dellucci, Major League Baseball legend at Ole Miss. I see David Morris and Wesley Walls. I see Archie Manning, I see Jesse Mitchell. And then I look at Ron Rychlak and I look at myself and I go, which two are not like all of the others? So, it was an honor for Ron and I to be part of this process. I will tell you, you could not assemble a more passion- ate group of individuals than in that room right there to select our Athletics Director.

When we started working with Collegiate Sports, I asked them to do two things for us. I said first, you have to give us a deep and diverse pool of candidates. And secondarily, make sure that the decision we make is based on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each individual candidate and is not influenced in any way by outside pressures. And they did that.

And after we got through with our interviews, we had a good and healthy debate and we came to the unanimous decision very quickly that Keith Carter was the man for the job. With that, Chancellor, I will turn it back over to you to introduce our new Athletics Director.

On the committee’s response to Keith’s work with coaches:

“First of all, Keith’s already demonstrated a pretty good track record for hiring coaches in hiring Kermit Davis. His role in attracting Kermit to our university was instrumental so that’s a pretty good start right there. Secondly, an Athletic Director has to be able to attract talent in coaching and administrative staff. I think Keith’s got the qualities you’ll look for in a leader. He demonstrated those in the interviews. When we got through deliberating, Todd Turner pulled me aside and said well it’s a good thing you’ve hired him because I was going to have him placed within six months. There is an example of someone who hires Athletic Directors for a living as well as coaches and saw the same things we saw in Keith Carter as we did in a committee. We went into this with a blank slate, pure and simple. We were going to hire the best candidate, that was our charge. I spoke to each com- mittee member individually and told them that if they weren’t comfortable with that mindset then we needed to go in a different direction. 100 percent of our committee took that charge that Chancellor Boyce gave us very seriously. I’m absolutely confident we got the best candidate.”

On this search compared to others he has led:

“We used essentially the same process in every search. I talked with Chancellor Boyce about the process we used when Chancellor Jones was here and the autonomy that he gave the committee to do the work. We followed the same process, that was the good news in that we had a blueprint for what needed to be done. Now anytime you hire a search firm you want to learn from their experience and how they go about assembling a pool of candidates. My role in this particular search was a bit more active than it was before in terms of assembling candidates because we did a lot of screening interviews this time. This is a funny game. It’s amazing how many people are willing to spend two hours with you on the phone talking about the opportunity but they’re not willing to interview. You take that for what you will, but we talked to a lot of people who have really good jobs but they were very excited about this. That’s one thing I think is important to state. I know it’s very easy for us to have our self-talk become more negative. I will tell you the way these candi- dates viewed our programs is that they would be coming in at exactly the right time. They felt that they would be coming into a program that was headed in the right direction. We may see it one way, but the people that we were talking to were seeing it a totally different way. To me I took a lot of solace in that.”

 

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over a decade, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship--and continued as she watched Katie receive three degrees from Ole Miss, culminating with her Pharm D. in 2012. Evelyn, a member of the FWAA, USBWA and the NCBWA, has covered Rebel sports for numerous outlets. In addition to working for The Rebel Walk, Evelyn is a sports writer for a newspaper in Texas.

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